New Brunswick

Sackville, N.B., school reverses decision to take down washroom doors

A high school in southeastern New Brunswick found a controversial solution to combat vaping and vandalism in washrooms — removing the washroom doors — but it didn't last long.

School removed doors on Tuesday to combat vandalism and vaping

Staff and others at Tantramar Regional High School in Sackville, N.B., had a view of what was happening in the school's washrooms, after the doors were briefly removed in an effort to curb vaping and vandalism. (Nate Gosse)

A high school in southeastern New Brunswick found a controversial solution to combat vaping and vandalism in washrooms — removing the  doors — but it didn't last long. 

On Tuesday, Tantramar Regional High School in Sackville took out the entrance doors to its washrooms, leaving a direct view of stalls and urinals. 

On Friday, the school said it would reinstall them and make some new rules instead.

The doors will "remain propped open unless someone is using the washroom," the school said in an email to parents.

Students are limited to using the washrooms on the main level, and there is a limit on how many can be in the washrooms at one time.

Students will also be required to sign in and out of class to use the washroom, no food or eating will be allowed, and the school will perform washroom checks throughout the day. 

Cheryl Colbert-Quintal's daughter, Madyson Wells, says she felt uncomfortable using the washrooms after the entrance doors were taken down. (Submitted by Cheryl Colbert-Quintal)

Parents have been sharing their outrage on social media about the doors' removal, citing privacy concerns for students. 

"My daughter contacted me Tuesday morning," said Cheryl Colbert-Quintal. "They got there this morning and the doors had been taken off with no notice to the kids." 

Her daughter, Madyson Wells, went to the principal's office with a group of students to complain.

"I told [the principal] it was an invasion of privacy," said Madyson.

The interaction escalated and led to some of the students being suspended, including Madyson, she said. 

The group of students left the school to make posters and came back to protest. Madyson said the school called the police, complaining the students were violating their school suspension by being on school property. 

The ninth grader wasn't sure she wanted to go back to school because of the discomfort she would feel using the washrooms.

"If I need to use the washroom, where am I going to go?" she asked. 

CBC News requested an interview with the school principal, but was told she wasn't available.

Tantramar isn't the first school in Canada to resort to removing washroom doors to curb anti-social behaviour. 

A high school in Ottawa made the same decision in an effort to stop students from vaping and smoking. 

Colbert-Quintal said there are other ways the school could deal with these issues, such as having hall monitors complete washroom checks or giving out washroom passes. 

According to her daughter, there are no hall monitors at the school. 

"[Parents] never knew this was such a big issue until today," Colbert-Quintal said. "Had they approached us, we would have given them ideas."

Corrections

  • This story has been updated with the correct name of Madyson Wells.
    Nov 19, 2021 1:42 PM AT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nojoud Al Mallees

Reporter/Producer

Nojoud Al Mallees covers economics for The Canadian Press. She's based in Ottawa.

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